I grew up playing tennis, but before I knew anything else about the sport, I knew about the amazing Williams sisters. Serena and Venus have been sports stars for so long that it’s hard to separate them from their other images — as fashion designers, as Beyoncé fam.
But let there be no mistake: The Williams sisters are hardworking athletes first. And they just made history at Friday’s Australian Open final.
Serena won her 7th Australian Open against Venus. This puts Serena at 23 Grand Slam wins, beating the previous modern era record of 22 by Steffi Graf.
(Some tennis terminology: A Grand Slam win can come from one of four tournaments. The Australian Open is one of them; the other three are the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open.)
To top this successful cherry off, Serena’s also the oldest Grand Slam winner in modern history, still playing with tenacity and grace at the age of 35. Venus, who’s a year older, rose to her younger sister’s challenge; this is the first Grand Slam final she’s been in since 2009. Both sisters have always been competitive but not resentful of each other, making their sibling sports rivalry a real delight.
Weirdly enough, the tennis scene looks a lot how it did in the mid-2000s. Case in point: On the men’s final side, industry now-veterans Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, longtime rivals, are taking each other on. Their match will be fun; but for the Williams family, their camaraderie, their rivalry, their unwavering support of each other is one built and bonded by blood.